Sponsored by Oregon Business

Red tape for green projects

| Print |  Email
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Complications with the state's Construction Contractors Board (CCB) could cool the warm glow from incentives aimed at improving home energy use.

According to Adam Pushkas, president of Portland-based Coho Construction Services, a trade ally of the Energy Trust, firms such as his that offer home energy "performance audits" may technically be in violation of the law. He says he was informed by the CCB that if his company continues to offer such services it could face up to $5,000 in fines.

The problem: His technician, who is certified by the Building Performance Institute, is not considered a home inspector by the CCB. "We got nabbed because we have a radio ad," Pushkas says. Although as of mid-November he only had one audit scheduled, he says the calls keep coming. "A lot of people call saying they want to take advantage of incentives," he says. "I don't want to tell people I'm operating illegally."

CCB enforcement manager Richard Blank says the problem is not limited to contractors like Coho operating without an official home inspector license, which he says the law clearly requires because the audits involve inspecting so many aspects of a home's structure.

More importantly, he says it violates a long-established statute that prohibits home inspectors (unlike auto mechanics) from doing the repairs they recommend. "The warning was issued because there may be a conflict" with the law, he says.

Although Blank says Coho is the only green weatherization company to receive such a warning so far, Pushkas maintains his company is one of at least 400 contractors who operate in a similar manner.

He says that even though his 10-year-old company has only performed home audits for a little under two years, he estimates it makes up about 15% of his total business.

Meanwhile the public's demand for weatherization projects statewide continues to grow. Amber Cole, spokeswoman for the Energy Trust, says weatherization projects receiving incentives from her organization increased by about 37% between 2007 and 2008, and by more than 73% during the first three quarters of 2009 compared to 2008. Cole says that the licensing issue will definitely have a negative impact on companies that do weatherization projects.

Blank wouldn't comment on how his agency's regulation, which is just now beginning to be enforced, could potentially hinder the growth of home energy conservation projects, but he says the board has begun to speak with the various parties to arrive at a final decision. "We're not looking to punish anyone," he says, explaining that the CCB appreciates the importance of environmental and energy efficiency programs.

"Environmental and energy conservation are very high on the governor and the legislature's radar," he says. "And this guides their policy." He says the rules can be changed, but says that such a solution probably won't happen overnight.

WILLIAM E. CRAWFORD
 

More Articles

Umbrella Revolution

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015

Yeah, we know: Oregonians are way too cool for umbrellas. But today’s stylish, high-tech models will soften the resistance of the most rain hardened.


Read more...

Bike Chic: 7 stylish options for cyclists

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.


Read more...

All Rise

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Don’t just sit there. For a healthy workplace, move up and down — and all around.


Read more...

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

Oregon Business expands events portfolio

The Latest
Friday, March 27, 2015
htctfacebookBY OB STAFF

New events series brings magazine to life.


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


Read more...

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS